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My First Day With My New iPad

Behold the iPad in All Its Glory

Image via Wikipedia

For weeks now I have been playing with the thought of acquiring a tablet device. Comparing the Apple iPad with the new RIM Playbook and also the Samsung Galaxy. I could not find the RIM Playbook in any store and I am wondering whether it is already available or only soon to come. Last Saturday I went to the T-Mobile store near my house to look at the Samsung Galaxy and not only was I not too thrilled about the Galaxy itself, but also was I surprised about the lack of enthusiasm of the sales rep showing me the Galaxy.

After that I went to the Apple Store in the Manhattan Village Mall. The store was packed but in less than a minute I had Josh, a young sales rep on my side, explaining to me the different features of the iPad. I liked the way he went about it, by kind of interviewing me about what I’m planning to do with the iPad. I told him right away that I am only interested in the WiFi but not the 3G and it was never an issue or any trying to pressure me into buying the AT&T data service.

In less than 20 minutes I was the proud new owner of a new 16GB iPad with WiFi only. It was all so easy. Josh had me setup the iPad right there on the spot and gave me some basic instructions on how to setup email accounts and do some other basic settings. My next pleasant surprise came when it came to pay for my new toy. No cash register I had to go to and stand in line. No Josh, scanned my credit card right there on the spot using his iPhone and then sent the receipt via email to me.

I love it. It was such an easy buying experience.  I went home unpacked my brand new iPad and put it right away into its protective sleeve or cover, before I even turned it on. First task on hand was to setup 2 of my mail accounts. One on Yahoo and one on Google (GMail). I decided to wait with my GoDaddy business account, since I figured I had to do some special configuration.

Paranoid and security conscious as I am, I activated the password feature. This way nobody could access my precious iPad without knowing my password. A decision I eventually learned to regret, but more about this later.

I played a little more with the iPad and trying to get used to it by exploring the  few apps that are already installed on it.

Eventually I called it a day.

Next morning I decided to check out a few of th free iPad apps just to learn that I first had to setup an iTunes account. No problem. I did it and when finished it downloaded the latest version of iTunes onto the iPad. From that point everything went wrong. After, I assume, completion of the download and installation the iPad rebooted on its own, but eventually hung up while displaying a USB Cord and the iTunes symbol and would not do anything from there. I figured something got messed up and there must be a button or function to reset everything to the factory defaults.

I decided to first google the problem to see whether anybody else had that problem with their iPad. Unfortunately wasn’t I able to find anything to that regards as it relates to the iPad. I found lots of reference for the iPod having the same issue. I found a few traces through the iPod blogs what I could try. It is written that I need to download iTunes to my PC and then hookup my iPad to my PC to do a restore or repair the iTunes install on the iPad. After successfully downloading iTunes to my PC and installing it I hooked up my iPad to it.

After I could not find anything I called a friend who is a Apple guru. Maybe he would be able to help me, but unfortunately he couldn’t. He had never worked with iPads.

At that moment I contemplated bringing it back the store or calling tech support. Having dealt with various PC Tech Supports in the past I was expecting the worst in regards to wait times and skill set. So I did a Google search for Apple tech support and was referred to a site where I found a telephone number to call or … what a surprise … having a call scheduled for a later time … the surprises are getting bigger … have tech support calling me now. I had to read that twice. They would call me NOW?! I said to myself you got to check that out. So I selected “Call me Now”, entered my telephone number and not even 10 seconds later my phone rang and I was greeted by an automated IVR system. Great, I thought, they call me and now I have to wait for hours. I hadn’t even finished that thought when a live person came online. Greeting me by name and even new what device I had and what my problem was. True I entered all that before on their website, but very rarely do I see CIT and IVR system that work like they should. Usually I have to repeat everything at least 2 or 3 times on the phone. But not this time. The tech support rep tried to help me and had me trying different tings with the iPad for about 5 minutes but without any success. He put me on a brief hold to see what else he could do just to come back to tell me how baffled he was and he has never seen this issue with the iPad before. >> Leave it to me <<. He told me that he would pass me on to a second level tech support (he never called it second level, just another person). The lady that was trying to help me now, seemed to had to deal with this problem before. She new right away what was wrong. She told me that my iPad was in recovery mode and that the OS needed to be reinstalled. Unfortunately it was not that easy, since my iTunes account complaint about the password i had set on my iPad and asked me to logon to my iPad, which I was not able to since the iPad was in recovery mode. Eventually she helped me to get around this hurdle and the iPad downloaded and re-installed the OS via iTunes. The whole effort took over an hour and she stayed with me on the phone the entire time. She even called backed when my cell phone had dropped the call.

This is excellent customer service and many companies out there can learn a lot from Apple in this regard.


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Virus Protection And Its Downfalls


Virus Protection And Its Downfalls

by Oliver Schmid 

Over the last few month I noticed that my laptop (Dell Latitude D820 with 1GB RAM running XP Professional SP3) was getting slower and slower.  I deleted old apps I did not need anymore, ran CCLeaner to get rid of leftovers and to clean up the registry. I performed Virus scans, which did not come up with anything, performed Malware and Spamware scans as well as a Root-Kit Scan. Malware and Spamware came up with a few tracking cookies that were not quiet kosher, which I subsequently deleted. Then I defragmented  my hard disk using a program called ‘Defraggler‘, even an analysis came back that no defragmentation was required.

All this did not help. My system still was slow like hell and even seem to hang for an extended period of time. I had been monitoring the running processes for a while to see what has been using up my resources like memory and CPU and I can say that 99% of the time it was a McAfee process.

Another thing I had observed was that my laptop was getting very hot underneath.  I had installed a program called “I8kfanGUI”, which allows to monitor CPU temperature and manually or semi-manually operate the internal fans to cool the CPU down more frequently. Before I installed this program I had CPU temps of 69° C and higher. With “I8kFanGUI” I was able to bring it down to around 60° C.

When I realized that McAfee was putting such a load on my system, I uninstalled it and guess what … my system was just flying. No performance problems AND !!!   …. no hot CPU anymore. My CPU temp was always around 50°C.

Since I had successfully identified McAfee as the culprit I decided to stay away from it,  especially since I was due for a renewal anyway and decided to go with AVG Internet Security. I downloaded the free 30 day trial to test it and what a surprise … I was having the same problems and symptoms I had with McAfee.  I played around with the settings enabled and disabled various features, but it made no difference.

I may try some other virus protection later, but I fear that it will lead to the same result.

I don’t want to be without any protection at all, especially since my Internet connection is a broadband-cable connection (Time Warner Cable) and a scan of my external IP address range revealed a whole bunch of other computers I am sharing the bandwidth and the backbone with. In a matter of fact I was able to connect successfully to an unprotected home networks printer. I have behind my cable modem a Linksys switch on which I have all available security and blocking features turned on and enabled but this will not prevent viruses and spam/malware from coming through.

I was thinking of installing a proxy server and have Virus and Spy/Malware protection running on here. I hope this will make a difference and take the load of my laptop, but then again what am I going to do when I take my laptop somewhere else. Guess I am screwed for now and live with a slow and hot system.

If anybody has any other ideas or suggestion I would appreciate it if they could leave a comment on it.

Oliver Schmid
Update 08. Sept. 2010
I uninstalled AVG since it was as bad if not even worse than McAfee. 
Now I have since about 1 week VIPRE running as Firewall, Spyware Protection and Email Scans and I have not seen any performance related issue

What Virus Protection do you use?

Animation: How Does Silicon Photonics Work?

Oliver Schmid

Great animation explaining the future of data transfer.

 

Intel‘s video talks about how this will reform data centers, doing away with cable spaghetti, and meaning that the networks will be able to handle vast tracts of data.

I can’t wait for this technology to become widely available. It will open up opportunities  many cannot even dream of at this point.

Intel’s Mario Paniccia talks Silicon Photonics

ESTA registration now compulsory for visa-free travellers to the USA

On 20 March 2010 the entry requirements to the USA, first introduced in January 2009, were tightened up for all airlines. Travellers may no longer enter the USA without a visa under the “Visa Waiver Program” – unless they have obtained an electronic entry permit from the U.S. authorities before departure.

You can register online via ESTA, the “Electronic System for Travel Authorization” to obtain your entry permit. If you do not have a valid permit when you check in for your flight to the USA, you will not be allowed to board the flight to the USA.

Definition Of 99.999% Availability

Five-nines reliability and what it stands for.

Network infrastrutcure providers, Telephone companies and Software as a Service (SaaS), as well as network equipment providers claiming to offer 99.999% up-time or reliability. But how many people actually know what it means and that a 99.999% reliability comes at a premium price.

The five-nines reliability comes originally from the telecom industry.

In a matter of fact, what is claimed as reliability is actuality availability. It means how much of the time a network or a piece of equipment is available for you to use. Availability is measured in how often something breaks and how long it takes to become available again. A server, router or switch that crashes and is up again within a couple of minutes falls under the five-nines reliability.

Should the problem be bigger and the fix takes 15 or 20 minutes it wouldn’t fall under the 99.999% reliability anymore but under the 99.99%.

To give you an idea what the various measurements mean, following a few examples:

99.9999% (Six-Nines) availability does only allow for 32 seconds or less of downtime per year

99.999% (Five-Nines) availability allows for 5 minutes and 15 seconds or less of downtime per year

99.99% (Four-Nines) availability allows for 52 minutes, 36 seconds or less of downtime per year

99.9% (Three-Nines) availability allows for 8 hours, 46 minutes or less of downtime per year

99% (Two-nines) availability allows for 3 days 15 hours and 40 minutes per year

In order to get more availability more reliable and expensive equipment needs to be put in place. It means also, buying not only the best equipment but also the easiest to repair and building redundancy.

In addition make sure that all components have the same rating. How much does it help, if your core server hardware has a 99.999% reliability, but some of the components in the server, like network interface cards (NIC) have only a 99% reliability.

It is also important to ask how much reliability is needed, since higher reliability will come at a premium price/cost.

When offering service, evaluate whether your clients need 99.999% reliability or maybe they can live with a 99% reliability, since you then can chose when to take you network or service offline for maintenance, since that is also a part that needs to be considered in your availability calculation.


Twitter

6 weeks ago I did not even know how to spell Twitter and today Twitter has taken over my life. OK, I admit I knew how twitter_logo (1) to spell Twitter and I had a general idea about what it is, but never realized its full potential until recently.
Even when I started out with Twitter and I did not have really any followers, for the first couple of weeks I was almost becoming a Quitter. Btw – Followers are the people that watch every thought that manifests itself in the mind of a person they follow or watch, in Tweets or Twitter messages.

Somehow, something in my mind convinced me that there must be more to it than what I experienced at first, which basically were people just posting, or “Tweeting” as it is called in the Twitter world, a bunch of nonsense. At least what I considered nonsense. Why would I want to know that you are on your way to a local coffee shop to get a Coffee Latte. Why do I care that you just turned in 7 books. Btw – where did you turn these 7 books into? Or another person telling everybody he hates to wake up and throws a question out there how other people wake up. I even wonder whether he ever received a response on his quest for knowledge about the science of waking up.
The whole thing at first did not make sense to me. Also the standard Twitter web interface did not make things a lot easier, especially when watching the public time line.
There must be more to it, I thought. Millions of people can be that off. I started to google Twitter to see what else there was to it and I came across a tool/website called Twittervision and if you would like to learn more about what Twittervision is all about visit the Blog of a John Wilson in the UK.

Twittervision, with its random pop-up of tweets from the public time-line and seeing what people or Tweeples all across the globe had to say was mesmerising. OK, most of the stuff that came up was still just random blabber but I saw also some very valuable tweets popping up. The disadvantage was that these tweets popped up and disappeared so fast that most of the time I could not read the whole content or even memorize some of it.

There had to be a better away to get access to some valuable Tweets. Now, in order to see tweets in your own time line one must follow another person, which can be done by just clicking on their name in the tweets and then select “Follow”.  All Tweet Names start with the ‘@’ sign and then a name or nickname (e.g. mine is @oliverschmid).

Still the Twitter Website with your own timeline was OK for the start but eventually did not prove not to be the best when you follow a bunch of Tweeters, especially if they tweet a lot. One Tweeple suggest to me various stand-alone applications to follow monitor your followers in more real time and in an easier way. The one application that has been sofar my favorite is TweetDeck.

First I spend an hour here and there on Twitter, but eventually and without consciously realizing it I spent hours and hours on Twitter, following Tweeples or as I call them Twittizen (from citizen). I started to follow people that had more my interests and share information that are valuable to me and unfollowed people that just did not provide any valuable input (at least not valuable for me) at all. I learned that there were Twitter Bots out there that send out scheduled tweets with the same content over and over again and I unfollowed these Bots next.

Now having been on Twitter for about 6 weeks it seems I am almost addicted to it. Everytime TweetDeck announces with its tweeting sound that there is a tweet from one of the people I follow I drop everything just to see what this person had to tweet about.  Twitter has taking over my life and it is exciting and scary at the same time.

Last night, or better this morning, it was after 1 am and I was tweeing most of the day and all evening already, @BommerRadioFM was talking about how addictive Tweeting had become to him, while another Twittizen in Germanycartoon_addiction announce that somebody in Munich had the swine flu. And I thought to myself at that moment that Twitter is like a virus. Once it hits you, you get the Twitter Flu. Of course no the advantages of Twitter came to light. I could spread that thought to 9 Million Twittizens across the world and@BommerRadioFM came up right away with a way how to diagnose the Twitter Flu and its associated symptons (btw the Twitter Flu is not fatal … at least not yet). These symptons are no sleep, zombie like appearance, drooling, etc. and it is expected to infect nearly 20 Million people by the end of June 2009.

But lets get serious again. Twitter has a great potential as marketing tool for many organizations. It’s potential of reaching the world with news and marketing campaigns in a never seen speed, even faster than  TV and Radio, at NO COST (Yes Twitter is free and I hope we can keep it this way) is outrageous. I believe we have not seen the best of it yet and once the Twitter hype, that attracts every high school kid with its IPhone, is over its real potential will come to light. I think I read somewhere that this hype is already coming to an end and that more more mature people are joining Twitter than kids. Kids like to spread the word about what they are doing at any given second of their life but they also need the immediate feedback and gratification of their actions and that is not something they necessarily get at Twitter, since Twitter does not lend itself to address a single person very easily. These kids will stay with SMS and chat rooms that  attract a smaller but more targeted audience.

At this time I would like to mention a few fellow Twittizens that really helped me to make my Twitter experience a positive one by providing valuable help and Tweets with great content. I recommend to follow the following Twittizens and tweeting groups:

@Jason_Pollock / @mashable /@ryanfellman /@WSB_TV / @BoomerRadioFM / @Buchautor / @cesarmillan (yes the dog whisperer is also on Twitter) / @DeAnnLR (with her great music blips from blip.fm) / @FreedomCoach / @Jack (one of the founders of Twitter) and many many more … just to may to list all here.

I will keep this post updated with my thoughts and my daily experiences on Twitter, but I would like everybody to chime in and to comment on their experiences with Twitter and what tweeting means to them and has done for them, good or bad – positiv or negativ. And please let’s keep it real.

@Oliver